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Fort Bragg soldier earns medal for heroism during fiery car crash

Posted November 27, 2013

Spc. Michael D. Parmelee is pinned with the Soldier's Medal during a ceremony Nov. 26, 2013, at Fort Bragg. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull.

— A Fort Bragg paratrooper earned the Soldier’s Medal for rescuing two people out of a burning car after witnessing a crash while he was on vacation.

Spc. Michael D. Parmelee, an infantryman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, received the medal during a ceremony Tuesday at the post. The medal is given to soldiers who perform acts of heroism outside of combat.

Parmelee was at home visiting family in Beaverton, Ore., when the crash happened. He was driving and noticed a semi in his rearview mirror that did not appear to be slowing down as they approached an intersection.

The truck sideswiped him, ran the red light and collided with a car, crushing the trunk.

Parmelee said within moments, the wrecked car was on fire.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he said. “Nothing was moving. It felt as though time had stopped.”

Parmelee raced over to the burning car, reached in to open the door and screaming at the driver to get himself out. He then helped the female passenger out of the car. As he turned to go back to the vehicle, deputies had arrived and pulled the dazed driver to safety.

Later, Parmelee discovered he’d been burned on the back of his neck. He was treated by emergency medical personnel but declined to go to the hospital.

“No matter how heavy the load, how bad the weather, and how tough the mission, I never heard a complaint from him,” said 1st Lt. Joshua Clayton, an infantry officer and Parmelee’s platoon leader. “Because of these traits he possesses, he is well-liked and respected by his peers and leadership.”


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